At the beginning of September, the time for the start of the academic year has already sounded in several countries around the world. In France, where universities were closed at the height of the pandemic, the start of the academic year will finally be spread over the next few weeks with priority given to face-to-face return, as part of the circular published on August 6, which implies respecting physical distancing as much as possible, respecting barrier gestures and wearing a systematic mask for all. Communication and information to agents and users must also be carried out to allow “collective ownership of health rules”. The implementation of these health rules is adapted on the different campuses.
Teacher-researchers on Twitter are still largely wondering about the conditions for resuming their teaching activities, administrative staff are gradually returning to their workstations, and students are wondering how this academic year will unfold. The difficulty is even greater for the students who will enter university this year: a new world, new ways of working to discover and appropriate. Other students closely concerned by the restrictions linked to the COVID-19 epidemic, those who were engaged in this return to a mobility action: certain borders are closed, reciprocal quarantines or not are imposed, exchanges sometimes cannot be done or not bilaterally. Some students are thus facing the full brunt of the Brexit / COVID-19 combination.
The start of the academic year is not going to be easy on campuses, and the signals coming from universities across the Atlantic are not the most encouraging. American universities resumed a few weeks ago. And already, some have announced that they are giving up face-to-face mode and are switching back to distance learning because they are overwhelmed by the explosion of contaminations among their students and staff. In France, at the end of the summer vacation, Santé Publique France (support for the conference) observes that the pandemic again seems exponential with as of September 2, 2020, 59 departments are in a vulnerable situation. The progression of the disease is particularly important in young people between 20 and 29 years old. The government says it is doing its best to avoid a re-containment like last spring, but does not rule out partial and local re-confinements.
As we can see, the theme of the conference, mental health on university campuses in times of pandemic, with the issue of discrimination at its heart, is that more topicality in this return.